Israeli jets raid south Lebanon

Israel has carried out air attacks in south Lebanon, a day after an Israeli soldier died in the region.

    UN peacekeepers have stepped up their border patrols

    The planes attacked areas around Zibqin and Mazrat Aalman villages in the south of the country on Tuesday.

    There were no immediate reports of casualties.

    Israeli army officials said they had attacked Hizb Allah bases in the area.

    In all, three air-to-surface missiles were fired in the two air raids, said Lebanese officials, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Meanwhile, the Hizb Allah resistance movement warned it would respond to any Israeli escalation and said an attack on neighbouring Syria would be considered as targeting Lebanon.  

    "We cannot accept any aggression against Lebanese soil and we will confront any aggression," said Muhammad Fnaish, a member of parliament representing Hizb Allah.

    Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said the attacks should be "considered a warning to Hizb Allah, which should understand it cannot continue its attacks with impunity, and to Syria, which supports it while talking of peace". 

    And in Washington, US Secretary of State Colin Powell blamed Hizb Allah for the Israeli airstrikes, saying the resistance group "caused" it. He was referring to the group's response to an Israeli military bulldozer entering the country.

    UNIFIL confirmation

    In related news, the United Nations said on Tuesday investigations had found an Israeli military bulldozer hit by a Hizb Allah rocket the day before was in Lebanon.

    Israel has stepped up rhetoric,
    warning of more military steps

    "After investigation, UNIFIL can confirm that the Israeli
    bulldozer was on the Lebanese side when it was hit," said Milos Strugar, spokesman for the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
      
    "It was violating the Blue Line," he said, referring to the demarcation border delineated by the UN when Israel withdrew its troops from south Lebanon after a 22-year occupation in May 2000. Hizb Allah spearheaded the efforts to oust Israel. 
      
    An Israeli soldier was killed and another wounded in the incident near the southern village of Marwahin. Israel had insisted the vehicle was on Israeli soil when it was hit.

    Past incident 

    Earlier, Lebanese President Emile Lahud

    also recalled Israel had killed two Lebanese civilians last month because they were suspected of being close to the Blue Line.

    Lebanon maintained that the two slain men were hunters and were on its side of the border. 

    Monday's flare-up followed a sharp escalation of Israeli intrusions into Lebanon's airspace which drew retaliatory fire from Hizb Allah and a stern rebuff from UN peacekeepers. 

    Tensions are high along the volatile border as UN forces stepped up patrols, fearing more trouble after Israel threatened military action, despite the UN's findings.

    Peacekeepers in armoured vehicles, backed up by a helicopter on Tuesday were patrolling the area around the scene of the intrusion.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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